Category Archive: Comic Review

May 10 2014

Other Lives – Peter Bagge

This short work is quite a fascinating attempt to discus and explore the idea that we rarely–if ever–know the truth about people. Whether it is fake identities we make for ourselves online or how we project images of ourselves to those around us (consciously or not), the truth is often elusive. However, Bagge’s work doesn’t quite measure up. His oddball art style is wonderful for his wilder comics, but fails for the seriousness of this topic. It also is somewhat misleading in that the story begins with the impression that it is about a post 9-11 world and quickly abandons that idea (maybe that was the point, but since I’m uncertain, I’d call it a negative). Finally, there was so much going on here that I felt I was overwhelmed with the depth of characterization–wow, how often do I claim that?! While I feel the book doesn’t really work in the end, I must say it is a really powerful idea and I commend Bagge for the effort.

May 02 2014

Ultimate Iron Man (vol 1) – Orson Scott Card

It seems like a brilliant move to get a respected sci-fi author to write the Ultimate’s version of Iron Man. Unfortunately, the main premise of Card’s Iron Man/Tony Stark is that he has a super brain due to a genetic mutation and must be covered in a protective paint-like armor to not feel constant horrific pain. In other words, the whole idea of have a suit of armor is largely pointless. That, or the whole paint-armor things is completely unnecessary. Either way, I found myself asking what was the point. It is only at the end of this collection does Tony develop a personality and a purpose, which means that most of the issues gave us nothing. I think it could have accomplished more in half the length, just by cutting the whole birth-early years of Tony and the paint-armor.

Apr 22 2014

The Magdalena: Blood Divine – Marcia Chen

I thought this would be another example of the sexy badass chick trope and I was correct. Magdalena is a descendent of Mary Magdalen and has the power to make people feel guilty about their sin. She works for the Church fighting evil–in this collection it’s vampires. Joe Benitez pin-up art is actually quite good when you take into account the detailed backgrounds he often has, but I’m pretty sure most are looking at the impossibly sexy women (Note: don’t have anyone wearing a swastika shirt you don’t want us to hate). The background of the Magdalena line is actually interesting and thought real effort was put into making the historical backstory good. This moment of hope for the comic was, sadly, quickly destroyed by reading the rest of it. Very professionally done and I’m sure it will go over well with fans of this trope, just not with me.

Apr 16 2014

Dial H: Into You (vol. 1) – China Mieville

Apparently, Mieville is a big name in sci-fi, which may be why she got the job of writing this comic, because, honestly, I don’t really see what is so special about this. A fat loser finds a way to (temporarily) become a random super-powered person. I just find the writing sometimes awkward, the superpowers more silly than interesting, and little to make me care about the various characters. The only issue I really enjoyed in this collection was #0 which was a back story to the dial that grants the powers.

Apr 11 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers – Brian Michael Bendis

Wow, shocking, another Bendis book. Well, this one was sort of ok. By this I mean I like the strange space superheroes, but I don’t like the idea of throwing Iron Man into the mix for no good reason, that Space Lord is a whiny teenager (except he’s a grown man) and the fact that Rocket Raccoon keeps says “I murdered you” with a great deal of glee, and it obviously suppose to be funny, is a little more than disturbing. The story is about a group of superheroes defending the world against alien invaders. I would skip it. 

Apr 08 2014

Unwritten – Mike Carey, art: Peter Gross

Cej first mentions this title in a general review, but the series certainly  deserves a larger mention. Take Harry Potter (make it real), add your Master’s in Literature, a Dan Brown-esq conspiracy, and plenty of murder and intrigue and vola! As of this writting there are seven volumes (Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity, Inside Man, Dead Man’s Knock, Leviathan, On to Genesis, Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, and The Wound) although I’ve only read the first five–get on the ball Cej and get me the rest! What, you expect me to buy my own comics?!

Tommy Taylor is a famous children’s story character, or is he just the son of the author? Or is he not the author’s son at all? And is Tommy really the character in the story and are the stories real?! In any event, why do so many people want to capture or kill Tom? What is his link to a cabal and can they actually shape reality through the control of stories? So many questions and I’m enjoying all of them. Carey delves into ideas like the collective unconscious, the power of myth, censorship, childhood celebraties, and lots and lots on literature. Well done!

 

Apr 05 2014

Enigma – Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo

I heard so much about this comic and everyone says how great it is. Honestly, I couldn’t stand it. The art is scratchy, the coloring is dull, the plot is boring (it’s about a boring guy who comes across a mysterious superhero and even more mysterious) villains), and comes to an end without coming to a conclusion, and the only thing that makes the comic the slightest bit interesting [SPOILER BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE THE COMIC ISN'T VERY GOOD] is that the main character turns out to be gay. Ooh, how shocking, that certainly makes the comic worth reading, since it is about a guy who suddenly discovers he is gay without any past hint of homosexual feeling or experience? Yeah, right. Skip this crap. 

Mar 28 2014

Message to Adolf (Part 1) – Osamu Tezuka

Admittedly, it was somewhat awkward to carry around an over 600 page hardcover with a picture of Hitler on it. The story revolves around Japan and its relationship with Germany and the Nazi party during the lead up to WWII. There are really three Adolfs: The obvious one and two German boys living in Japan, one Jewish and one half Japanese son of a German official. The story is often amazing in its scope and dedication to pointing out the absolute horrors of Nazism and Japanese complicity with it as well as their own fascist past.

Still, there are issues, the art often becomes too cartoony, one of the heroes engages in rape (yes, I’m arguing that it was rape), and every women falls madly in love with that same character as soon as they meet him. My biggest complaint–and perhaps this is the librarian in me–revolves around the McGuffin. I won’t spoil anything, but let me just say that if a document is completely inaccessible, it might as well not exist. Don’t believe me? Ok, I have the meaning of life written down right next to me. Would you like it? Oh well. Too much of the story deals with documents that would change the world, which is why the bad guys want to destroy them (not that they couldn’t just say they were fake), but they don’t need to if no one sees them! Useful information needs to be used to be useful, thus the term.

Interestingly, there is a lot of stress made about how kind and helpful Japan is to Jews; however, everything I’ve read shows that the Japanese–while rarely every meeting anyone Jewish–have extreme prejudice against them. Still, I’m very impressed that Tezuka tackles such a subject, forcing Japanese to recognize their role in the most important event of the last hundred years. The tale involved politics, intrigue, history, difficulties in coming of age, mindless racism/prejudice, and bravery. I look forward to reading the conclusion. 

Mar 24 2014

The Nobody – Jeff Lemire

Lemire presents a quiet tale about a stranger who comes to an isolated fishing village, attracting attention, and becoming the center of gossip as to who is this mysterious man covered in bandages. Based on H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, it’s a nice read with lovely illustrations.

Mar 22 2014

Magic Boy & The Robot Elf – James Kochalka

I never know what to think of Kochalka’s work. The drawings and ideas seem so whimsical that I always think it is going to be fun and lighthearted, but often it takes a rather dark turn. There’s a cat but it’s an alien and there is an old man/boy and he gets usurped by his robot invention and there’s a love interest and a hint of incest. I just don’t know what to think. 

Mar 19 2014

Indestructible Universe – Morgan Pielli

I totally admire anyone who creates and produces their own comic. That said I just wasn’t thrilled with this compilation of comics. Yes, there were many interesting and good comics, but they are a bit random and all short–which just doesn’t allow for a ton of depth. Take a look.

Mar 15 2014

The New Deadwardians – Dan Abnett

Chief Inspector George Suttle, last of the homicide detectives of a post Victorian England wherein the upper classes are vampires and the 99% are, well, the same as always, but some sort of plague has set off a zombie epidemic. Suttle attempts to unravel the inexplicable murder of a vampire only to find out unwanted truths. This is an interesting idea, but I felt the entire story was designed as a set up for a future story, and that all the characters were only there to fulfill archetypes, in other words that were flat or Edwardian.  

Mar 12 2014

We Can Fix It! A Time Travel Memoir – Jess Fink

This is a cute comic that starts off giving a completely different message as to what it is actually about. A woman travels back in time to meet her younger, awkward self and promptly starts to make out with herself (so is this incest, homosexuality, pedophilia, masterbation, or some combo?). I almost stopped reading at this point (not that I’m against comics wherein woman are making out!) because I just didn’t think there would be much to the work. I’m glad I continued as it turned into a charming tale about the futility of regret and foolishness of wishing you could change the past–”if only I knew then what I know now” type of thing. Of course all such tales are based on the idea that your life turns out ok despite the problems; no one ever seems to write about the crap lives. Then again, who would read those? In any event, consider getting the book here.

Mar 08 2014

Asterios Polyp – David Mazzucchelli

Asterios Polyp is a professor and architect who leaves his town and job after lightning destroys his apartment, becoming a mechanic and questioning his life and how/why he became the (not very likable) person he is. Those that remember Mazzucchelli from his amazing Daredevil covers may be rather shocked and confused at this simply drawn and rather deep tale that has no resemblance to traditional comic books. While the work is very impressive, and I must commend Mazzucchelli for following his heart and producing a comic tome that takes the artform to a strictly literary level, I can’t say that I really enjoyed it. Thanks to Cej for giving this book to me and I will read it again to see if a second reading allows me to “get it.”

Mar 01 2014

Harley Quinn: Preludes And Knock-Knock Jokes – Karl Kesel

My friend, Rainbow Blight, gave this to me as she knows how in love I am with Batman’s female villains. It’s rather a perfect gift as it focuses on various femme fatales of DC’s Gotham’s scene and drawn by Terry Dodson to exploit my every fantasy. The stories were fun, if nothing amazing, but I like the idea of trying to flesh out this often sidelined, sidekick character (even if it is hardly very feminist oriented).

Feb 27 2014

Siege: Mighty Avengers – Dan Slott

I have to say I like the new Wasp (i.e. Hank Pym, too many AKAs to mention) as Slott plays up the fact that he is, and always was, an amazing scientist. Sadly, I couldn’t really care less about all the other characters that are making up the Avengers in this collection. I felt the beginning  story of the evil Osborn and his fake Avengers v. Pym and his group to see who can take down the Absorbing Man was pretty good, but the point of Siege (Osborn v. Asgard) didn’t really involve Pym or his band of wannabes, so why bother?

This cover picture, by the way, doesn’t really take place.

Feb 21 2014

The Bloody Benders – Rick Geary

Part of his A Treasury of Victorian Murder series, The Saga of The Bloody Benders is probably my favorite of Geary works, mainly because it reads like a Lovecraftian story. Apparently, there was a “family” of murders in post civil war era Kansas, and Geary describes what we know, don’t know, and speculate about the killers in a succinct and interesting fashion. 

Feb 15 2014

Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student and Between Dark & Dawn – Gail Simone

Just as it might help comic trades to have titles for their volumes, so might it help to number them. Either way, as I mentioned last review, I read many comics in the order Cej lends them to me. So while I’m aware I may have missed some volumes, you could always blame him. I really like the idea of Birds of Prey, you have a strong (and female) writer presenting an array of (usually and mostly) female super-heroes of various power levels, tackling mysteries and crimes in smart and skillful ways. It’s great to read about so many underdeveloped, or at least underutilized, characters without them playing backup to male heroes.  Sensei & Student largely revolves around Black Canary and (yes, however unlikely) Lady Shiva as they attempt to avenge the death of their martial arts teacher. Between Dark & Dawn has Huntress undercover in a cult while Oracle fights off a cyberattack. The problem I have with the series (as oppose to the collections themselves, which were fine stories) is that on one hand they spotlight females of the DC universe in fine feminist fashion, but on the other, the art is total cheesecake! Scantily clad women with enormous, gravity defying, boobs in sexy posses, it’s as if Simone is writing serious work while, unbeknownst to her,  Ed Benes (and others) are drawing pin-ups! What makes it sadder still is that Simone must be aware of this fact, and the scumbag editors of DC get to eat their cake and have it too by claiming to have women oriented comics, but it’s not their fault there are no realistically drawn women in them. When was the last time you saw Superman half naked or the outline of Bat-Man’s crotch?

Feb 08 2014

Captain America (vol. 3) – Ed Brubaker

I really haven’t been paying attention to the volume numbers of this series, I just read them in the order Cej lends them to me. Not that it matters. This trade is complete in and of itself, and more to the point, this is a good story in and of itself. Brubaker is the best Captain America writer there is. Why? Because he can take some nobodies like Hydra and goofy heroes/villains from the 80s (the crying time as I like to think of it) and make a compelling action/crime story about terrorists, possible government corruption, justice, and relationships (love and friendship). In a word, he makes it: real.

Jan 26 2014

Black Widow: Kiss or Kill – Duane Swierczynski

A senator is killed and his journalist son is about to follow suit unless the super-spy can figure out what is happening, why, and how to stop it. This was an OK story, but too much happens that we have no idea how and we’re suppose to just accept it. It read to me like a rough draft or a story that was suppose to have another couple of issues but was cut down.

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